Literally and figuratively made from the same mold, French-Filipino siblings Lani and Dean Taylor Pasquet share how family and adaptability have become the recipe for success of international design sensation, La Galuche Inc.
Stingray leather or shagreen is a coveted commodity these days. Once a rawhide esteemed by samurai masters and European aristocrats for its exceptional mix of beauty and durability, shagreen has made a comeback in recent years as one of the most sought-after leathers for furniture, clothing accessories, and even fashion.
That makes it a veritable gold mine for La Galuche, one of the few furniture manufacturers in the world that produce their own stingray leather, among other exotic skins. At the heart of La Galuche’s steady rise is the synergy between General Manager Lani Taylor Pasquet and her brother Dean, La Galuche’s web and production manager. But what’s ironic is that the company is older than either one of them. It was their father, Frenchman Jean-Marc Pasquet, who started working with the stingray in 1982.
“He studied gemology so his background is really in jewelry,” Dean said. “He would travel to almost every country to buy precious stones, go back to France, and sell to Cartier and Place Vendôme—the best place in Paris to buy jewelry.” According to Dean, their father eventually started sourcing out exotic skins to make jewelry, a venture that he ultimately expanded to furniture.
“Sometimes he’d stay two weeks in France then leave for another two weeks to be in the Philippines [to oversee the factory in Cebu],” Dean recalled.
Perhaps due to the nature of their father’s profession or his hobby of sailing, their family set-up was not what most would call conventional.
“Every summer we’d live in a boat for three months,” Lani fondly shared. “We’d go to the Philippines, Phuket, Malaysia, and other places in Asia. In fact, my dad wanted us to live in the boat for real but my mom said, ‘No way, I’m a city girl!’” Their Manileña mother, Candy, an English teacher who had met Jean-Marc at a party in Paris, insisted on her preference for the urban lifestyle.
Their father’s laidback vibe seems have rubbed off on the two who drove together to Crimson Beach Resort and Spa on the morning of the photo shoot. Dean was dressed casually in a T-shirt and a pair of shorts whereas Lani greeted us in a flowing maxi dress, her face devoid of any makeup. Not that she needed any; the twenty-five-year-old is a deadringer for Isabella Rosellini and is no novice to photo shoots, having been featured in a few glossies and in the recent ad campaign of Cebu brand Islands Souvenirs.
“I was born in Paris,” Lani said,”but for my first three years, we lived in Cebu. I was even baptized in Liloan [in northern Cebu]. My dad still had the company there at the time.
“When Dean was born, we moved to Paris for ten years. We lived on top of our French grandparents’ arts supplies shop. From school, I’d go to the shop and play with pens. We were always exposed to design and art especially because architects went to buy supplies in the shop.”
Lani looks up to her grandmother whom she said she got her character and taste from: “She is really the one who has an eye for beauty. My grandparents have a beautiful house in Cannes that is so detailed; every room has a theme. She influenced me a lot.”
In fact, Lani wanted to be an architect at first but chose to take up marketing management for more practical reasons.
“France is not like the Philippines where there is a new construction site around every corner,” she said. “In Paris, there is barely any space for new buildings. [Besides,] I really love marketing. My mother used to work in one of the top advertising agencies in France and I would visit her there. I liked the ambience. I would even get paid to see what I thought of a paper and I found that so cool that it stuck with me.”
“When I was 11 [and Dean was 8], our parents decided to get out of city life and move to the south of France in Aix-en-Provence,” Lani said. She eventually moved back to Paris by herself to pursue her college degree at 18. During this time, their father had left for Cebu and reopened the business.
“Her college, Université Paris Dauphine, was really tough,” Dean said. “But it is the best public school in France for business.”
Lani disclosed how having to bounce back early turned out to be a blessing in disguise: “Living alone and adjusting to a new city, I was really lucky the first year because I almost failed. In the summer, I was able to make up for two subjects and because I got better grades than those who did well the first time. My average was better.” This was an advantage for her school’s bidding system, which allowed students to continue semesters abroad.
Out of a thousand applicants, Lani was selected to continue her studies in Singapore and Hongkong, as well as to finish the second year of her master’s degree at Fundação Getulio Vargas in Brazil. However, not long after Lani’s first job as packaging manager in a branding agency, then in a cosmetic company, her father asked her to join him in reviving La Galuche in Cebu.
Only three years apart, it is clear that Lani has the stronger personality between the two siblings. Dean exudes a quiet, easygoing charm.
“We were both spoiled as kids but he was treated like a prince!” Lani chided. “We both had a ‘yaya’—which is uncommon in France— we were very spoiled and lucky to have home cooked Filipino food too.”
Dean admitted that he is very close to their mother. “When Lani left for college and dad went to Cebu, it was just me and my mom in our house in Aix-en-Provence for three years,” he said.
Both siblings spoke highly of the small city near Marseilles where the famous Montagne Saint-Victoire towers in its east. Lani even referred to it as “the most beautiful city in France.” Dean, who played American football in high school, especially likes the Aix’s weather and terrain: “Growing up in the south was nice. It’s always sunny and the lifestyle is relaxed. It’s also ideal for extreme sports. It’s close to the sea. The Alps are accessible and you can ski. There’s even a lake if you want to go wakeboarding.
“I studied business/advertising in Ecole de Management Léonard De Vinci in Paris,” Dean continued. “Lani and I shared a flat for a year when I was a freshman and she was in her fourth year, but she traveled a lot because of her studies.” In his third year, Dean chose to complete his six-month internship abroad at La Galuche in Cebu where he was reunited with his father and sister.
Working for their father’s business for the first time garnered mixed reactions from Lani and Dean. Said Lani, “My father is not the type to delegate or teach [since he is used to being a one-man trader] so I had a lot to figure out at first, including creating my own position. I worked on a company policy and started handing out a memo whenever someone was late. It was a challenge because some of the factory workers who came back from before have known me since I was in diapers!”
Culture was also an initial obstacle for her: “Before then, I had never worked in the Philippines and had to adjust to the local work practices. Looking back, I’m proud of how I gradually broke in but at the time, I was a young girl who didn’t know anything about furniture or stingray but at the same time had to tell everyone what to do. I’m stronger now.” Recognizing Lani and Dean’s creative talents and drive to grow the company, their father felt confident entrusting La Galuche to them, which allowed him to fulfill his desire of sailing and traveling the world.
When Dean entered the company in 2009, he said that La Galuche already had a good system in place and was doing very well in the market as a high-end furniture player. Much credit is due to their father who has built valuable and long-term relationships with suppliers and clients over the years.
Today, Lani and Dean complement each other in managing La Galuche. “We have a common trust,” Dean said. “If she goes on a trip, I cover for her and vice versa.” Of the 22-year-old, Lani said: “I may be more organized but he has the swag, the people skills. The employees love him. He gets along well with everyone.”
Lani recalled what Dean had texted her only two months after he started working for the company: “I’m with Chris Burch [Tory Burch’s husband.] He just bought the showroom.”
“I swear I was ready to retire at that point!” she joked.
“Eighty percent of our production is custom-made or exclusive for clients,” Dean explained. “The rest is our own line, which is influenced by the styles of 1920’s art deco French designers, like Jean Michel Frank and Clement Rosseau. As much as we would love to make new collections, with the demand from clients who outsource from us at the moment, we can’t squeeze in those items.” La Galuche only has a total of 50 employees including the Pasquets but has been catering exclusively to major international design labels like Ralph Lauren, Asprey, and Tory Burch, to name a few.
“The main key of our business is the raw materials,” said Dean. “Shagreen is our number one product and is also the most expensive because it is rare. Shagreen comes from a specific ray with a scaly, hard skin in the Indian Ocean. A piece inlayed in stingray will last forever. I can say that we produce best-quality skins in the world.”
La Galuche also uses other raw materials such as the skins of python, crocodile, shark, ostrich and goat, combined with shells, cow bone, ebony, cedar and other exotic woods. There are almost no limits to what their skilled workers can handcraft from the combination of these materials and from the dyeing process that produces every color imaginable. One client wanted a bedside table to match his curtains so he sent a swatch of cloth from the drapes for La Galuche to recreate the exact same color.
“Only a few designers carry our pieces,” Lani said. “Most of the people who order from us want something special and every piece is different. For instance, we once customized a cabinet for Brooke Shields with a special color and with skull heads as handles.
Their biggest project to date was for the The Ritz Carlton in Pudong, Shanghai. The hotel property, which was named as 2011’s Best Hotel in the World by an international travel magazine, has walls of shagreen in the elevators and presidential suites.
La Galuche’s continuous string of achievements has resulted in the siblings’ settling in Cebu for some time now. Lani has been in a relationship with Cebuano businessman Jay Chiongbian for the past two years and the two even collaborated together on a new lifestyle lounge GILT, of which her boyfriend is the owner.
Dean has also blended well with the local scene, having made a lot of friends himself. As for the business, whether they decide to expand the factory to accommodate more orders or to seek new materials to diversify their product line, it is only a matter of time and choice. Between these two young go-getters, who knows what else they are capable of accomplishing?
- by Pia Echevarria
- sittings editor Katsy Borromeo
- production manager David Jones Cua
- production assistant Danica Ronquillo
- photography Anne Lorraine Uy
- creative director Mikey Sanchez
- grooming Ramil Solis and Hyatt Laurel
- locale Crimson Resort & Spa
EXCLUSIVE: Never Been Released Behind-the-Scenes photos of Zee Lifestyle’s Emerald Issue Cover Shoot
We celebrate the strength and resilience of womanhood in this year’s Mother’s Day by looking back at these never been seen before behind-the-scenes shots of Zee Lifestyle Magazine’s Emerald (20th Anniversary) Issue cover shoot featuring the “Leading Women” of Cebu.
To celebrate the 20 beautiful years of Zee Lifestyle as the ultimate source of lifestyle news in Cebu, we handpicked 12 strong and stylish women of Cebu from every age group. These women show us that independently building one’s strength of character and living one’s passion knows no age. From the beginning, Zee has always been empowering women, providing the Cebuanas a platform to express their beauty and confidence, share their passions, engage in economic and political participation which yields to viewing women with equality and respect that we deserve.
photography Jan Gonzales
creative director Melo Esguerra
art director Doro Barandino
sittings editor Shari Quimbo
beauty director Romero Vergara
makeup Arnauld, Janice Barillo and Nicko dela Peña
hair Jessie Egos and Jake Arias
fashion styling Clint Potestas
production assistants Patty Taboada and Katrina Labra
locale Marco Polo Plaza Hotel Cebu
Twelve women, two sets and one afternoon. That is how the Zee Lifestyle team decided to celebrate the title’s 20th anniversary issue—with a challenge that, in some ways, is one of our biggest productions yet.
The idea came along when publisher Eva Gullas and editor-at-large Melo Esguerra were discussing a cover story that would best represent the magazine’s history. From commissioning artistic depictions on Cebu to playing with the anniversary’s emerald theme, no idea had stuck until Melo suggested putting a series of women who had already been on the cover of Zee, again on the cover all together.
Coming up with the list of names, of course, was no small feat. Our covers from the last 20 years have included several strong personalities—from philanthropists and politicians, to actors, and names to soon watch out for, our pages have seen them all. The challenge, then, was to come up with a list of women who had been driving forces in their respective fields when they had first appeared on the cover, and remain as powerful players even today.
With input from editors, both past and present, we rounded up 12 women from different age groups, fields and industries, who are all strong and passionate at whatever it is they do—Amparito Lhuillier, who remains the doyenne of Cebu society as a picture of elegance and class with her continuing efforts in business and social causes; the always-stylish Marguerite Lhuillier, herself an example of sophistication in all her efforts, whether business or otherwise; Margot Osmeña, who as a Cebu City Councilor has spearheaded many urban projects directed for the betterment of living in the city; hospitality mavens June Alegrado and Alice Woolbright, who are deeply involved in the rise of their brands, Bluewater properties and Beverly Hotel, respectively; Christina Garcia Frasco, the current Lilo-an Mayor advocating impressively progressive efforts in the area; former model Fiona King, now a major player in homegrown real estate with projects like Bloq Residences; the fitness enthusiast Danessa Onglatco who has espoused wellness with the opening of Yogahub; restaurateur Carla Yeung-McKowen who is behind the city’s hottest dining outlet, The Pig & Palm; designer Mia Arcenas, whose signature resort wear and accessories are representative of Cebu’s laid back lifestyle; Kym Maitland-Smith, who juggles efforts in swimsuit design through SOLTI Activewear and is building awareness for the vegan lifestyle; and Kryz Uy, whose online presence was a strong one even before fashion blogs were on anyone’s radar.
An impressive bunch, for sure. These women properly embody the characteristics that Zee Lifestyle looks for in one who makes the cover—beauty, yes, but also elegance coupled with individuality, and always a strong drive to succeed in whatever efforts they are directed.
This, it turns out, was the fitting tribute to the years Zee has been Cebu’s premier lifestyle bible, as well as a sign of the things forthcoming. Our 12 cover stars may have been on our pages before, but if their current efforts are any indication, our pages will continue to see more of them in the future. And as continuing purveyors of what Cebu has to offer, Zee Lifestyle will happily be seeing them in the years to come.
(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s December 2016 Emerald Issue, “Leading Women” on pages 140-155.)
La Liga Henerales: Shaping History Awareness Back Again in Cebu
La Liga Henerales is a community of young talents passionately promotes historical awareness through periodic costumes carefully researched for its authenticity and accuracy and promoted as well in events and schools.
Only few individuals before were into pursuit in this historical awareness project until the age of communication where internet is convenient in the palm of our hands through our gadgets. New information travel fast and data is retrievable, yet also possess a disadvantage with the plethora of different social media platforms carried by various makers as well. In a daily basis, historical backgrounds are unearthed making its trend until now as new discoveries are released, but the idea of these information being shown and shared is as close as not valuing or commemorating to its sources leaving this information just a trend.
There is a certain community of Cebuanos that are taking a quest to rewrite and restructure what was in the past, filling the gaps in facts with further research of variable sources that are made debatable but sticks to it true cause, to unveil the truths of our heritage and our origins, as Cebuanos and as Filipinos as well.
La Liga Henerales is a Cebu-based, non-profit organization composed of a group of talented, committed and respectable individuals from different walks of life, schools and profession whose primary aim is to promote both, Cebuano and filipino culture and heritage that was depicted before in pre-colonial and colonial eras via re-enactment with costumes vested in proper research and investigation to achieve authenticity. They also push their cause on schools and other social gatherings promoting and spreading awareness about our local, and national heroes that we look up to. With these said, they also portray a closer look of the lifestyle of the past to where they perform stories, perform forgotten dances and rituals and portray their individual roles, vital in the fight of our country’s future during those challenging times, and in honor to spread awareness of the lost practices we had in those times.
Louis Kenneth Villaflor, an entrepreneur and an avid history enthusiast and costumer, founded the group on the purpose of re-educating the youth about real local and national history, he saw the opportunity to combine his favourite hobbies which is costuming and story role-playing and the process to instill the historical awareness and value among the youth and in schools, along with a group of fellow enthusiasts who shares his passion about research and history, they took it among themselves to be purposeful in the advocacy in spreading historical awareness in schools or events by wearing periodically correct costumes and sharing the stories and its value to the youth.
Behind the Garments
Meet Rodney “Pee-Wee” Senining, who has been in the fashion industry since the late 90’s, strives in concepts of avant-garde, innovation and cutting edge-fashion forward design. And also a teacher of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design of University of San Carlos, he had grown into research of books like the holy grail in the Library Resource Center and is always fascinated of the periodical times and how to preserve it; Hence, his interest had grown for the affinity of Periodical Costumes and Sustainable Fashion.
Being part of the group La Liga Henerales, he was tasked to instantly be their mentor for the young talents and as the organization is still new and developing with limited funds, resourcefulness and research were done to come up with a good output of photo shoot and was quite proud of it and still promise on the next editions of pieces to be more historically accurate. Even as teacher for Fashion Design in SAFAD, his expertise comes hand in hand with the members as he helps them do research as well. His passion and interest somehow led him with enough knowledge to key the insights of the significant periods and historical backgrounds of it.
Historical Awareness in Cebu
The strength and progress of a country is anchored on how well they know and honor its history. The means of historical awareness in Cebu is almost non-existent among the Cebuanos, although we push forward in tourism and promote beauty through sceneries and other aspects of culture yet never commemorate deeply on historical icons such as our other local heroes, and ancient cultures as well that is almost been forgotten in an urban Cebu. Nevertheless, as long as communities’ like La Liga Henerales are now evolving in a learning state by real discovery by multiple resources, this will always reflect of how we appreciate love, patriotism and honor to our country and would look forward to progress.
After the Razzmatazz and Razzle-dazzle: Post-Sinulog Thoughts
by Chrissy Grey Resaba
Buntings of red and yellow were removed from post to post. Streets were cleared and cleaned. Fireworks displays were faded in the sky. Beats of #prititit and tunes of tourism-booster Cebu tracks were being put to archive once again.
Contingents from different parts of Cebu and Central Visayas had gone back home. Party people had gone sober while some are still recovering. Traffic has gone back to normal. Businesses, as well, has gone back to normal.
However, all the fun and loud chants, smooth grooves, and frenzied choreographies are still replaying from the memory banks of the people who celebrated Sinulog 2020. The queen of all festivals in the Philippines has left again another mark of cultural and festive nostalgia to the people from all parts of the world and Cebuanos alike.
After all the razzmatazz and razzle-dazzle, let’s get to know what are these IG and FB personalities’ #PostSinulogThoughts about celebrating the newly-culminated Sinulog 2020 and how did they differentiate it to last year’s.
Eva Psychee Patalinjug, Binibining Pilipinas Grand International 2018 @evapatalinjug
I celebrated my Sinulog with my boyfriend and some of my close friends, we decided to choose a place where it’s not very crowded where we can see the whole Cebu, talk, and chill the night away. We went to Verified Lounge – Cebu’s newest premier sky lounge – located at the rooftop of the Avenir Building. It was something new for me as the night was calm as I was away from the busy streets of Cebu. It’s definitely one way of enjoying such festivities.
Kim Covert @kimcovert
The Sinulog celebration this year has been one of the most memorable events in my life. Not only was I invited to perform a few of my own songs during the weekend’s festivities but I also turned over my Binibining Cebu Tourism crown to my successor. Last year, I was busy with work and was not able to completely grasp the events. This year’s festival was more organized which is a great success for Cebu. Many have flown in and had spent time with their families in the “Pit Senyor” spirit, others have enjoyed spending time off with friends and colleagues. It was a great way for me to start my New Year and close my Cebu chapter before I leave to the US in a week.
Alem Garcia @thealemgarcia
Well pretty much, I was still busy doing shows and events for Sinulog. But what made it different this year was the religious celebration made me believe even more that Sto. Niño is indeed miraculous and that He is meant to be celebrated. Even though you are successful in your chosen field, furthermore, everything will be meaningless if you do not have the faith.
Philip Pingoy @almostablogger
We all have a Sinulog story to tell. It may be a story of losing faith and finding hope. But what is important is our devotion to the Holy Child Jesus (Señor. Sto. Niño). This year, my Sinulog experience was very different since I am already based in the United Kingdom. Thanks to the internet I was still able to watch the mass and all the festivities in Cebu. I am in UK because I prayed to Sto. Niño. So, let us not forget the reason we celebrate Sinulog and let us continue to share to the rest of the world why Sinulog is the grandest festival in the Philippines. Pit Senyor everyone! I hope you had a good one!
Lyssa Amor @lyssaamor
Sinulog celebrates Filipinos’ acceptance of Christianity. This year, I celebrated Sinulog by hearing the word of God. I went to church which I do every Sinulog but the difference now is that I am not in Cebu. It’s my first time to celebrate Sinulog away from home because I’m currently in Japan. Although I didn’t dance the traditional Sinulog dance this year, I wasn’t able to watch the fireworks in Ayala, and didn’t spend time with my friends in Mango and IT Park. Snr. Sto. Niño will always be in my heart and I am forever grateful that our ancestors accepted Christianity and we continue to embrace it up until today.
Kevin Geniston @kgeniston
Sinulog will always be a highlight for me as a Cebuano. This year has been fulfilling as I was able to brave the crowd in the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu three times to attend the novena mass which had also become like bonding time with my family, daughter, friends and loved ones. I ended the celebration of the Sinulog festivities with a bit of the usual partying and/or clubbing.
Carlo Andrew Olano @kalamicebu
My Sinulog this year was a great mix of religious and secular activities. I was able to go to the church and somehow witnessed the Traslacion and the fluvial procession. I also went to many side events like parties, mall events, and fireworks exhibitions. Sinulog 2020 had a fantastic balance of fun, faith, and festivities.
Danna Bacolod @dannabacolod
This is the second time I spent Sinulog with Cebu Pacific. We had series of events prepared during its entire week and participated the grand parade by having a float last Sunday. I always feel excited to join Sinulog Grand Parade and see a lot of people celebrating their own way of Sinulog along the streets of Cebu. Guess it’s safe to say that I had so much fun. Even if this was work-related, I didn’t feel like I’m actually working as it was always joyful doing events like these.
Nimo Hideki @nimo_scheming
You prolly knew this already but, Sinulog 2020 was by far the most phenomenal Sinulog experience: more laidback than the previous years’. The music in every corner of the streets were still there to help you let loose and enjoy the experience. The surge of people had tested you both mentally and physically. But it was an experience you cannot miss like mingling with people from different walks of life and shouting out “Pit Senyor” to everyone. Summing up my Sinulog experience, I was able to get crazy and enjoy all aspects of the fest.
Michael Rey @michaelsomewhere
I had the most relaxed Sinulog experience this year. I did not party and preferred to witness the grand parade instead. I do think that this year’s celebration was more colorful and much safer as establishments strictly abided the rules imposed by the Cebu City Government. I was also amazed at how the festival of fashion here in Cebu has evolved throughout the years.
Now, how about you? What are your #PostSinulogThoughts this Prititit 2020? Viva Pit Senyor!